Being involved in a car accident is never fun. Especially when it’s someone else’s fault. But accidents can and do happen often. So if you find yourself involved in a not-at-fault accident, it's worth knowing what steps you need to take to make sure your car insurance claim goes through smoothly. But first, a couple of key definitions.
At fault vs not at fault
In the world of car insurance, the term 'at-fault driver' refers to the driver who is determined to have caused the car accident. Makes sense, right? They’re at fault. If it’s determined that they’re completely at fault, you did not break any Australian road rules and your actions did not contribute to the car accident, you’ll be deemed the ‘not-at-fault driver’.
Determining who is at fault in a car accident
Determining who’s at fault is critical to a successful not-at-fault car insurance claim. If you can’t provide sufficient evidence to your car insurer that the other driver was at fault, you might have to pay an excess on your claim. Police reports, independent eyewitness accounts, admissions of fault at the scene and dash cam footage are all examples of things your car insurer may consider when processing your not-at-fault car accident claim.
Here's how it works at Youi. Where the incident is completely the fault of a third party and you can provide:
Their full name, and two of either their:
- phone number,
- driver’s licence number, or
- the registration number of their vehicle that was involved in the incident
we will waive payment of any excesses.
Understanding completely at fault and partly at fault
Most car insurance policies will include conditions that cover ‘completely at fault’ and ‘partly at fault’ driver claims. Here’s a bit of an overview.
Completely at fault
For the other driver to be considered completely at fault, your actions must not have contributed to the car accident in any way.
Partly at fault
If it can be argued that you in some way contributed to the accident (or you admitted liability at the scene) you may be considered to be partly at fault. When you make a claim as a partly at-fault driver, you may need to pay an excess.
Making a car insurance claim when you're not at fault
You should lodge your car insurance claim as soon as possible after being involved in a not-at-fault accident. Even if the damage to your car can potentially be repaired by the other driver’s insurance company, we recommend that you make a claim through your own insurer. That way, they can liaise with the at-fault driver's insurer on your behalf to recover the repair costs.
If you have any questions about how the car insurance claim process works, contact your insurer or take a look at your product disclosure statement.
Gathering info after an accident
Being involved in a car accident can be overwhelming and unsettling. To help overcome this and keep you a bit more focused in the moment, we recommend keeping in your glovebox a list of details you should record after an accident occurs. Some of the key details to gather include:
Vehicle registration numbers
Collecting the vehicle registration numbers of all cars involved is essential, and can help significantly if the police need to put together a report.
Other drivers’ details
Swap names, licence details and contact details, including phone number and address, with the other driver/s at the scene. If any other driver admits liability, record this as well.
Other drivers’ insurers
Request the name of other drivers’ insurance providers, and provide yours if requested.
If anyone nearby saw the accident happen, record any eyewitness details including their name and best contact number. These might be helpful if a police report is required.
Physical proof of damage
Take well-lit, high-quality photos of any damage to vehicles, people or property caused by the accident.
When you make a claim, you'll need to provide as much detail as possible to the insurance company you're using. If you're not sure whether something is relevant, record it just in case.
What if you don't have the contact details of the at-fault driver?
If other drivers refuse to provide their personal details at the scene, you should take note of their vehicle make, model and registration number and contact the police. Your insurer will be able to access details, such as the other driver's insurer, via a police report.
What if an uninsured driver causes the accident?
Vehicle damage caused by uninsured drivers can get complicated. Depending on your car insurance policy and level of car cover, you may still be covered for accidental damage even if the other driver was not insured. Your product disclosure statement will confirm whether or not you can make a claim in this situation.
If someone without insurance hits your car and you’re not covered for accidental damage, you might still be able to receive compensation. You could send a letter of demand to the other driver, requesting to be reimbursed for the repair bill. If they’re non-responsive, it's important to assess your own circumstances before moving onto additional legal action. Take your financial situation into account when considering legal action; it's possible the damage to your vehicle is worth less than the cost of pursuing reimbursement.
Will making a claim increase the cost of your insurance?
Typically, if you make an insurance claim where the other party is completely at fault, your future premiums will not be impacted. However, this can vary based on your individual insurance policy.
If you are partially or fully at fault in an incident, the next year's premium amount in your policy may increase.
Will you have to pay an excess if you’re not at fault?
If you’ve taken out a Comprehensive car insurance policy, it’s likely that you’re covered for accidental damage and won’t need to pay an excess if the other driver is at fault. Even when comprehensively insured, you’ll still need to provide your insurer with details for the other driver when making a claim. To be sure, refer to your PDS or contact your insurer for specifics on the details you’ll need to provide, as these can vary between insurance companies.
If there’s any uncertainty about whether your actions contributed to the accident, or you can’t provide the other driver’s details, an excess may apply.
Will you receive a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired?
Whether or not you receive a free hire car (or are reimbursed for hire car costs) can vary between car insurance policies. It's important to check your insurance details to confirm whether your insurer will provide a replacement car while yours is being repaired.
If you’re comprehensively insured and determined to be not at fault, you may be eligible for a hire car.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what’s required to submit a not-at-fault insurance claim, you can confidently collect the details needed in the unfortunate event of an accident.
This information is not intended to be personal advice and it's important that you consult your specific car insurance policy and relevant product disclosure statement to confirm what your insurance will cover.